Multiplayer party games have seen a huge resurgence in the last twelve to twenty-four months and as someone who often has young ones looking for the next best thing to occupy time with, I couldn’t be happier about it. To hit the pinnacles of success in this genre though, you need to create something memorable, accessible, and fun, and with so many titles releasing looking for the attention of the masses, and an already packed release schedule for other titles outside the genre, it’s becoming harder than ever to execute that perfect combination. Rubber Bandits has just been released and is the next game looking to bring multiplayer madness for all, but is going to be up there with the best?
First things first, and probably the most important aspect of any multiplayer game these days thanks to that whole global pandemic issue we have going on is that it not only allows for local multiplayer mayhem but more importantly comes with full online functionality too so that we can enjoy games with friends that can’t always any longer just nip over for a quick gaming session. Fortunately, Rubber Bandits hits those markers right out the gate and comes sporting options of both for up to 4 players. Sadly, online connectivity does seem to be a bit hit and miss but should you manage to get everyone together, which is usually done through codes specific to your lobby, then you’ll set to go.
Now the game itself is a light-hearted brawler with three unique game modes, Heist, Brawl and Arcade. Sadly, there are no bots to fill the gaps should you be unable to find players online or have anyone close by, and should you have no one available, you’ll only be able to play the Arcade mode in single-player.
Starting with Heist, players must fight to collect 21 items of loot across several levels with the players able to attack one another to steal what they have already collected. To finish, players must wait for the exit door to open before making a break with anything they’ve managed to collect.
Next up is Brawl and this mode is your typical Deathmatch or Team-Deathmatch style mode. Here players have 3 hearts each with each hit taking one off the total, with the first to achieve this feat 3 times proving the winner.
The final mode, Arcade, as mentioned before can be played solo, or with up to the full 4 players and this mode will see an A.I. police officer enter the mix to guard loot within a level, whilst players must either attack them or sneak past to grab the loot and escape, no doubt whilst fighting one another in the process.
Sadly, that is as far as the game modes go and whilst there is enough to keep players occupied for a few hours should you have the friends to jump in with right away, waiting around for an online lobby even this soon after release is enough to see you debating playing something else thanks to a minimal player base and no options to brawl with computer opponents. That’s not to say the gameplay isn’t enough to hold you in, but it would be nice to have some more varied game modes and a way to play solo should you be short of immediate players.
As for the gameplay, Rubber Bandits isn’t a bad effort, although it could do with some overall polishing. The controls are generally what you’d hope for as they are certainly effective enough to get the job done, and simplistic enough that you won’t have to worry about what button does what, however, there does appear to be some input lag when running around trying to pick up items or attacking enemy players.
Should you be able to look past that, then what you will find is a wacky party game in which players can be dressed up as a wide variety of characters from a banana to a crook, and plenty of others in between, with more characters unlocked using the loot you’ve been nabbing whilst playing. On top of that are more than 20 different weapons to beat these various characters with and more than 20 different stages that you could stumble upon, each of which have destructible elements which can create a heap of excitement whilst there are some interesting hazards thrown in for good measures, such as moving vehicles, moving platforms, and more to keep players focussing on what’s happening on screen. Finally, there are a few power-ups too, including frozen ice blocks to halt your opponents in their tracks and a jetpack that helps get you out of the way of immediate danger in a hurry.
Unfortunately, if you were hoping for something to shake up the genre or revitalise efforts, Rubber Bandits is unlikely to provide quite that, but there is fun to be had chasing your opponent with a minigun whilst you wait for a bank vault door to open dressed as a banana, and it’s this type of madness that Rubber Bandits is all about.
With a game like this, it wouldn’t be right to leave things without talking about the artistic design and even with the trailer alone, you can see that Rubber Bandits does everything it can to make things feel bright, colourful, and alive and that much is true throughout the game with characters really popping, and colours lighting up every corner of the screen during each of the quickfire rounds you’ll be spending your time in. In fact, anyone with knowledge of hit title Fall Guys, could be forgiven for thinking Rubber Bandits is another game from those same developers. It turns out it isn’t though; it is instead a fairly solid effort from the folks over at Flashbulb.
Overall, if you like your party games, are looking for a giggle and you want some wacky fun to keep you and some friends entertained for a few hours, Rubber Bandits is not a bad shout. Going further than that might be difficult due to the lack of game modes making longevity a stretch, but there is enough here to warrant a look, especially given the game is available right now on Xbox Game Pass for console and PC.Become a Patron!
This game was reviewed based on Xbox One review code, using an Xbox Series S|X console. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version. Game provided by publisher.